In the midst of a third wave across Africa with Ghana no exception, the conduct of most residents in Tamale is next to a declaration of an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. At a glance, markets, shopping, recreational, and religious centres – mosques, and on the streets of the northern region capital, virtually nobody appears bothered by the ongoing pandemic. In the middle of this display of sheer irresponsibility is the discontinuity of the World Health Organization’s safety protocol checks at health facilities within the Tamale metropolis and Sagnarigu municipality.
In his series of report with support from Journalists for Human Rights under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting COVID-19 project, trainee Prince Kwame Tamakloe visited some health facilities in the Tamale metropolis and Sagnarigu municipality and reports that, officers that used to man the entrances of these health facilities with the task to check the temperature of clients and also ensure they observe the hand washing protocol before entering the premises have simply disappeared into thin air.
Closure of COVID-19 preventive measures.
Ghana’s first two COVID-19 cases in March, 2020 triggered drastic measures across all health facilities both public and private in all its sixteen regions. The safety measures announced by the Ghana Health Service as communicated by the president of the Republic Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his first telecast on “measures by government to control the spread of the Corona virus” included checking of temperature of both clients and staff of health facilities before entering the premise, mandatory hand washing and sanitizing of hands using alcoholic based sanitizer, wearing of face mask, and social distancing.
At the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH), Tamale West Hospital, Tamale Central hospital and the Tamale Reproductive Child Health Centre, it was observed during the onset of the pandemic that all the facilities had erected handwashing stations with water filled to the brim alongside liquid detergent and disposable tissue. Seating spaces were also marked to ensure social distancing with officers duly stationed to undertake the task.
But the story is different and disturbing as the country battles a third wave. “While there are no temperature checks, handwashing stations stand belly empty,” as reported by Prince Kwame Tamakloe during his visits in the first week of September 2021. While some hand washing stations stood empty, others have worn out with staring evidence of not in use for a while. None of the hand washing stations had the prescribed ancillaries like detergent, disposable tissue, and alcohol based hand sanitizers. Temperature check at all these facilities is no longer being enforced.
Nurses in the facilities who spoke on condition of anonymity unanimously revealed supplies of personal protective equipment including hand gloves, thermometer guns, detergents, and tissues have stalled.
“I only came here some few weeks ago and ever since I came here there is no hand sanitizers, we only have the veronica buckets and water, that is what we use but the thermometer guns are in Madam’s office,” one of the nurses hinted.
Health Authorities’ response.
The deputy director of human resource who doubles as the public relations officer for TTH, Mohammed Misbaw confirmed the fears of the reporter adding; the deployment at the entrances strained the staff strength of the facility.
“We have stopped taking temperature at the entrances in other that we redeploy the human resources into other critically needed areas since the taking of the temperature also took away the limited human resources that we had.”
An administrative assistant at the Tamale Central Hospital, Yakubu Ayisha said, “We often use nursing students who come for their clinical practice but for now, they have returned to school and you know we cannot leave our patients at the wards unattended to.”
A member of the northern regional health promotion team on COVID-19, Rahinatu Yakubu said the region’s directorate is yet to take note of the reported happenings as they are currently embarking on “mosquito net distribution.”
COVID-19 Updates national and northern regional updates.
Ghana’s confirmed cases as of 14th September, 2021, stood at 123, 521 with 1,069 deaths. 117,352 people have recovered an discharged from with 5,073 active cases. The Northern region has recorded some 1, 148 case between 2020 and 2021. 1,121 were treated and discharged while seventeen died. The region currently has some ten active cases. Cumulatively, Ghana has vaccinated 1, 271,393 people as of 14th July 2021 according to the Ghana Health Service COVID-19 dashboard.
This story is supported by Journalists for Human Rights under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting COVID-19 project.
Edited by Zubaida Mabuno Ismail.
By: Prince Kwame Tamakloe|www.zamireports.com| Tamale.